25 thoughts on “Get Ugandan soldiers out of Somalia

  1. Africa: U.S. Military Holds War Games on Nigeria, Somalia

    Daniel Volman

    14 August 2009

    In May 2008, the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, hosted “Unified Quest 2008,” the army’s annual war games to test the American military’s ability to deal with the kind of crises that it might face in the near future. “Unified Quest 2008″ was especially noteworthy because it was the first time the war games included African scenarios as part of the Pentagon’s plan to create a new military command for the continent: the Africa Command or Africom. No representatives of Africom were at the war games, but Africom officers were in close communication throughout the event.

    The five-day war games were designed to look at what crises might erupt in different parts of the world in five to 25 years and how the United States might handle them. In addition to U.S. military officers and intelligence officers, “Unified Quest 2008″ brought together participants from the State Department and other U.S. government agencies, academics, journalists, and foreign military officers (including military representatives from several NATO countries, Australia, and Israel), along with the private military contractors who helped run the war games: the Rand Corporation and Booz-Allen.

    One of the four scenarios that were war-gamed was a test of how Africom could respond to a crisis in Somalia — set in 2025 — caused by escalating insurgency and piracy. Unfortunately, no information on the details of the scenario is available.

    General George W. Casey, Jr., left, chief of staff of the United States Army, with an American solider at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, the only U.S. military base on African soil.

    Far more information is available on the other scenario — set in 2013 — which was a test of how Africom could respond to a crisis in Nigeria in which the Nigerian government is near collapse, and rival factions and rebels are fighting for control of the oil fields of the Niger Delta and vying for power in the country which is the sixth largest supplier of America’s oil imports.

    The list of options for the Nigeria scenario ranged from diplomatic pressure to military action, with or without the aid of European and African nations. One participant, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stanovich, drew up a plan that called for the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops within 60 days, which even he thought was undesirable. “American intervention could send the wrong message: that we are backing a government that we don’t intend to,” Stanovich said. Other participants suggested that it would be better if the U.S. government sent a request to South Africa or Ghana to send troops into Nigeria instead.

    As the game progressed, according to former U.S. ambassador David Lyon, it became clear that the government of Nigeria was a large part of the problem. As he put it, “we have a circle of elites [the government of Nigeria] who have seized resources and are trying to perpetuate themselves. Their interests are not exactly those of the people.”

    Furthermore, according to U.S. Army Major Robert Thornton, an officer with the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, “it became apparent that it was actually green (the host nation government) which had the initiative, and that any blue [the U.S. government and its allies] actions within the frame were contingent upon what green was willing to tolerate and accommodate.”

    Among scenarios examined during the game were the possibility of direct American military intervention involving some 20,000 U.S. troops in order to “secure the oil,” and the question of how to handle possible splits between factions within the Nigerian government. The game ended without military intervention because one of the rival factions executed a successful coup and formed a new government that sought stability.

    The recommendations which the participants drew up for the Army’s Chief of Staff, General George Casey, do not appear to be publicly available, so we don’t know exactly what the participants finally concluded. But we do know that since the war games took place in the midst of the presidential election campaign, General Casey decided to brief both John McCain and Barack Obama on its results.

    The African Security Research Project has prepared reports providing detailed information on the creation, missions, and activities of Africom. In particular, they reveal that neither the commander of Africom, General William Ward, nor his deputy, Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, are under any illusions about the purpose of the new command.

    Thus, when General Ward appeared before the House Armed Services Committee on March 13, 2008, he cited America’s growing dependence on African oil as a priority issue for Africom and went on to proclaim that combating terrorism would be “Africom’s number one theater-wide goal.” He barely mentioned development, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping or conflict resolution.

    And in a presentation by Vice Admiral Moeller at an Africom conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008 and subsequently posted on the web by the Pentagon, he declared that protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market” was one of Africom’s “guiding principles” and specifically cited “oil disruption,” “terrorism,” and the “growing influence” of China as major “challenges” to U.S. interests in Africa.

    Since then, as General Ward has demonstrated in an interview with AllAfrica, he has become more adept at sticking to the U.S. government’s official public position on Africom’s aims and on its escalating military operations on the African continent.

    These activities currently include supervising U.S. arms sales, military training programs and military exercises; overseeing the growing presence of U.S. naval forces in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea and off the coast of Somalia; running the new U.S. base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti; and managing the array of African military bases to which the United States has acquired access under agreements with the host governments of African countries all over the continent. These countries include Algeria, Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, São Tomé, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.

    We can only wonder what Barack Obama thought of the war game and what lessons he learned from General Casey’s briefing. One might hope that he came away with a new appreciation for the danger, if not the outright absurdity, of pursuing the strategy of unilateral American military intervention in Africa pioneered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was retained as Defense Secretary by President Obama when he took office, and General Casey, who has also kept his job under the new administration.

    But President Obama has decided instead to expand the operations of Africom throughout the continent. He has proposed a budget for financial year 2010 that will provide increased security assistance to repressive and undemocratic governments in resource-rich countries like Nigeria, Niger, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to countries that are key military allies of the United States like Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Rwanda and Uganda.
    Africom

    * Africa: U.S. Military Command Aims to Help Africans Help Themselves – General
    * Africa: Africom to Continue Under Obama
    * Document: Africom and the Obama Administration
    * Document: U.S. Military Programs In Sub-Saharan Africa, 2005-2007

    And he has actually chosen to escalate U.S. military intervention in Africa, most conspicuously by providing arms and training to the beleaguered Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, as part of his effort to make Africa a central battlefield in the “global war on terrorism.” So it is clearly wishful thinking to believe that his exposure to the real risks of such a strategy revealed by these hypothetical scenarios gave him a better appreciation of the risks that the strategy entails.

    Daniel Volman is director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. He has been studying U.S. security policy toward Africa and U.S. military activities in Africa for more than 30 years.

  2. Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

    Somalia: Ethiopian Troops Halt Movement of the Traffic Traveling to the Somali Regions

    15 August 2009

    Fer-Fer — The Ethiopian troops with more battle wagons have halted the movement of the traffic traveling to Somali regions in Ethiopia, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Saturday.

    Reports from Eldibir village in the Somali region in Ethiopia say that many companies of digging the big roads lining gig cables under the ground with heavily armed military Ethiopian troops poured there in over the recent days and started halting the movement of the traffic traveling through the Somali regions in Ethiopia.

    Many Somali people in the region expressed concern about the arrival of the agencies with the Ethiopian troops who started military movement in parts of the region and halted the traveling vehicles between the region and Somalia.

    Many of the Somali businesses in the country had also expressed concern about the suspension of their business movement there.

    Reports say that the companies’ aim is to put cables under the roads as the Ethiopian troops threatening to the Somali people in Ethiopia saying that they take a drastic step to those who try to intervene their work.

    There is no comment from the administration in the region so far as more of livestock owners affected the activities of the Ethiopian troops and companies in their region.

  3. Hillary Clinton in Africa: Promoting US corporate and military
    interests

    By Firoze Manji
    August 6, 2009 — International media attention is focused on the August
    3-14 visit of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to seven
    countries in Africa. Judging by the behaviour of representatives of many
    African governments, there are great expectations that this visit –
    following so closely after US President Barack Obama’s two earlier
    visits to Egypt and Ghana this year — holds out vast hope for Africa.
    But what is the significance of Clinton’s visit? Does it really hold out
    hope for Africa? There are three dimensions to this visit: The African
    Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); oil and natural resource
    exploitation; and security.

    * Read more http://links.org.au/node/1194

  4. Garowe Online (Garowe)

    Somalia: Helicopters Hunt Wildlife, Residents Say

    27 August 2009

    Gara’ad — Residents and elders in the Somali Coastal village of Gara’ad have voiced concern over helicopters hunting various types of wildlife, including ostrich and gazelles, Radio Garowe has reported.

    According to the elders who have made contact with the Puntland-based radio, helicopters have been used to dart the wildlife before taking them onboard.

    “For the last five days, the hunters have been anesthetizing the animals before taking them onboard to ships based on the high seas” said Tahug Muse Ahmed, one of the elders who made contact with the Radio.

    He added that local elders have agreed to conserve the wildlife nine years ago and imposed fines on anybody held on hunting after the wildlife in the area was close to extinction.

    However, it is not clear which country owns the helicopters but international naval powers, including NATO have deployed warships to the waters off Somalia over past years to escort aid-carrying ships bound to Somalia and to protect the maritime trade routes from Somali pirates.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200908270968.html

  5. Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

    Somalia: Ethiopian Troops Make Military Bases in Beledweyn Town

    29 August 2009

    Beledweyn — Ethiopian troops have made military bases in the west site of Beledweyn town in Hiran region, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Saturday.

    Reports from the town say that more government soldiers with Ethiopian troops entered overnight in the west side of the town and made search operations there until Saturday morning where they lately made military bases.

    Locals said that government soldiers robbed some of the people’s belongings in the areas where both the allied troops reached today adding that the movement of the traffic, people and business returned normal.

    Witnesses told Shabelle radio that two people were also killed in the town as the government soldiers opened fire to the people. One of Beledweyn university officials told Shabelle radio that the troops crushed computers and took money that laid at the office of the university declining to mention its amount.

    There is no official who talked about the operation of both Ethiopian and TFG troops who jointly entered to parts of Beledweyn town in central Somalia and conducted operations.

  6. Somalia: U.S. continues attacks

    U.S. military presence was on display last week in Africa. In southern Somalia, fire from a U.S. helicopter on Sept. 14 killed several al-Shabab rebels, among them Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, whom U.S. authorities accuse of al-Qaeda loyalties and responsibility for attacks on a hotel and an Israeli passenger plane in Mombasa in 2002.

    Al-Jazeera reported that last May U.S. gunfire also killed al-Shabab leader and possible al-Qaeda member Aden Hashi Ayro.

    Meanwhile, plans are underway for U.S. construction of “an enormous military base of 1,000 hectares” (2,471 acres) on the outskirts of Tan Tan, Morocco as home for AFRICOM, the U.S. military command for Africa. The report on rebelion.org also cites a U.S. congressional committee’s impression that the Kingdom of Mohammed VI offers “internal stability and solid friendship.”

    http://www.pww.org/article/view/17089/

  7. Garowe Online (Garowe)

    Kenya: Controversy Over ‘Recruiting Somalis’ to Fight in Somalia

    8 October 2009

    Nairobi — Ethnic Somalis who live in a vast territory in northeastern Kenya are being recruited in big numbers, with the military recruitment process reportedly taking place in the Kenyan towns of Wajer, Garissa and Mandera, according to various sources.

    Hundreds of young ethnic Somali-Kenyans are joining the Kenyan army after promises of a $600-per month salary and six months of military training, local sources said.

    “My parents refused that I sign up, but I signed up and joined the army, not because I want to go to Somalia to fight, but because the pay is good,” said a young Somali Kenyan in Garissa town who declined to be named in print.

    Garissa Mayor Mohamud Gabow told reporters that “300 recruits” from Garissa have been taken to military camps in other parts of Kenya after promises of salary.

    But Kenyan military spokesman Bogita Ongeri called the reports “propaganda” and alleged that the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Al Shabaab insurgents were both actively recruiting ethnic Somali-Kenyans to fight in Somalia.

    Kenyan authorities have long been concerned about the activities of Al Shabaab and the possibility of terror attacks in Kenya.

    An Islamist-led insurgency has raged in south-central Somalia since early 2007, with a recent spike in violence near the border sending thousands of Somali civilians fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya.

    The 5,000-strong AMISOM peacekeeping force deployed in Mogadishu consists of soldiers from Uganda and Burundi.

  8. Puntland Investigating ‘Flying Poachers’

    22 October 2009

    Nairobi — Authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, are compiling data on foreign helicopters said to be poaching and stealing wildlife from the area while at the same time scaring off the farm animals.

    “We have been getting reports in the past few months of unidentified helicopters swooping in from the sea and attacking and taking wildlife,” Abdiqani Yusuf Ade, Puntland’s Environment Minister, told IRIN.

    He said the authorities did not have a clear picture of “who was involved or from what countries”.

    Ade said Puntland was calling on countries whose forces were stationed off the Somali coast as part of the anti-piracy efforts to stop the poaching if they were involved.

    He said the authorities had asked residents in the coastal villages to take photographs of the helicopters. “We are trying to get visual evidence to show the world. If the information we are getting is correct, what is happening is illegal,” he said. “These forces are here to fight piracy; they should not be poaching our natural resources.”

    Noise pollution

    Abdiaziz Aw Yusuf, the district commissioner of Jariban, near the area where the helicopters are alleged to be poaching, told IRIN it had been going on for some time. “They usually operate in an area between the coastal villages of Eil Danan and Dhinowda Digdigle.”

    He said the helicopters scattered the wildlife and once they had landed, two or three men captured the animals. He said the most common game in the area was gazelle and ostrich.

    Yusuf said the noise of the helicopters was affecting the local population and their livestock. Many were lost after being frightened by the planes and stampeding. He said some had been eaten by predators.

    “We have forwarded our complaints and what information we have collected to the Puntland government,” Yusuf said.

    Easy access

    Ahmed Aden, an elder in Garad town, 5km south of the area, told IRIN the helicopters came from ships that could be seen from the land.

    Aden said because the area was flat and grassy, it was easy for the helicopters to land. He said the dust raised disoriented the animals, allowing the men on board to capture them.

    “It has become normal to see them on a daily basis,” Aden said. “They [foreign forces] claim to be guarding against pirates but who is guarding us and our resources against them?”

    [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

  9. The East African (Nairobi)

    Seychelles: We Won’t Arm Drones in East African Waters – U.S.

    Kevin Kelley

    16 November 2009

    Nairobi — The United States has “no plans” to arm the pilotless aircraft that are carrying out reconnaissance missions from a base in the Seychelles, a spokesman of the US Africa Command (Africom) has said.

    The aerial surveillance vehicles, known as MQ-9 Reaper drones, “will be operating primarily over water,” spokesman Vince Crawley told The EastAfrican in an email from Africom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

    He was reacting to a story carried in this newspaper last week: “Armed drones to pursue pirates off the Horn”

    But he did not rule out other missions for the long-range drones, including flights over Somalia to track Islamist militants fighting to overthrow a government backed by the US, the United Nations and the African Union.

    Mr Crawley said deployment of the drones reflects “a commitment to counter-piracy, maritime security, border security, deterrence of international terrorism, and other security-related issues impacting the residents of Seychelles and neighbouring countries.”

    The United States and Seychelles agreed to initiate the drone programme “in response to increased acts of piracy in the western Indian Ocean,” he added.

    Somali pirates are returning to the high seas in force now that seasonal storms have ended.

    Last week, they fired rocket-propelled grenades at a Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker about 1,600 kilometres off the Somali coast — the most distant attack so far.

    Nearly 200 hostages have been seized by pirates.

    A British couple were kidnapped last month after setting sail in their yacht from the Seychelles.

    The Seychelles consist of 115 islands with a total population of 85,000 scattered over 1.4 million square kilometres.

    Presiding over an economy dependent on tuna fishing and tourism, Seychelles leaders are worried that the country’s small military cannot by itself counter the growing piracy threat.

    The governments of the United States and Seychelles agreed after several months of discussions to base what Mr Crawley describes as “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” assets at Mahé regional airport.

    About 75 US government personnel are in the Seychelles to help carry out the mission, Mr Crawley said.

    With a cruising speed of about 200 knots and a range of more than 3,500 nautical kilometres, the Reaper drones represent “an ideal platform for observing the vast ocean and maritime corridors in the Indian Ocean region and assisting in counter-piracy efforts,” Mr Crawley continued.

    The operation could make use of other intelligence-gathering options in addition to the Reapers, he said without specifying those options.

    He emphasised, however, that these “assets will not be armed, and we have no plans of doing so.”

    The Reaper class of drones can carry several guided bombs and missiles.

    The Reapers are more powerful than the drones known as MQ-1 Predators that are regularly used by the US to strike targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Attacks carried out by these remote-controlled aircraft have been criticised by a United Nations special investigator of extrajudicial.

    He termed them summary and arbitrary executions which could violate international law.

    The Seychelles-based mission is expected to last several months as Africom assesses its effectiveness, Mr Crawley said.

  10. Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

    Somalia: Ethiopian Troops Vacate From Kala-Beyrka in Hiran in Hiran Region

    16 November 2009

    Somalia — More Ethiopian troops with heavily armed vehicles have vacated from the Kala-beyrka intersection in Hiran region, officials and witnesses told Shabelle radio on Monday.

    Reports from Beledweyn, the central town of Hiran region say that the Ethiopian troops left their main bases in the region which was in Kala-bayrka intersection in central Somalia and the troops reportedly took more Lorries of the Somali people.

    Residents confirmed Shabelle radio that the Ethiopian troops completely vacated from their military bases in Kala-beyrka intersection adding that the Ethiopian troops took more vehicles of the Somalis by loading military supply of their troops who were in the region recenlty.

    “The Ethiopian troops left to the side of the Somali region under the control of Ethiopia. They headed to Fer-Fer town,” said a resident woman in Jawil village.

    Mohamed Nor Aga-jof, the spokesman of the transitional government troops in Hiran region told Shabelle radio that there were no Ethiopian troops who were there recently pointing out that those who were in area were the TFG soldiers disproving the reports saying that Ethiopian troops left there.

    It is unclear the main reason that the Ethiopian troops left from Kala-beyka intersection in Hiran region as they were about 5 months in the region in central Somalia and it is unclear whether they return back to the region or not.

  11. East Africa: Yemen – Arrivals in 2009 Up 55 Percent

    17 January 2010

    Sanaa — The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Yemen received 77,802 new arrivals from the Horn of Africa in 2009, a 55 percent increase over 2008 and for the first time Somalis were not the majority nationality, the agency’s external relations officer Rocco Nuri told IRIN in Sanaa on 16 January.

    The biggest change over 2008, he said, was that the number of Ethiopians making the perilous boat journey across the Gulf of Aden more than doubled to 44,814, while 32,988 Somalis reached Yemen’s shores.

    “There are various push factors behind the increasing number of Ethiopians, such as conflict, famine, drought and lack of job opportunities,” Nuri said.

    He added that the global financial crisis and subsequent rise in commodity prices “also played a role in pushing more people to leave their countries in search of better opportunities”.

    Over 700,000 immigrants

    There are more than 700,000 African immigrants in Yemen, the majority of whom are Somalis, deputy foreign minister Ali Muthan told a symposium in Sanaa on 12 January at the launch of a new initiative entitled ‘Supporting Yemeni Government and Civil Society to Meet Migration Challenges’.

    He said that “out of the total number of African immigrants in Yemen, only 200,000 have refugee status”.

    New Somali arrivals wait for refugee IDs at the UN Refugee Agency’s Sanaa office.

    “The government has made tireless efforts to reduce the influx of Africans into its territory through contributing to enhancing stability and security in Somaliland,” Muthan said.

    According to UNHCR, all Somalis arriving in Yemen are granted prima facie refugee status while non-Somalis wanting to claim asylum are required to apply at a UNHCR office.

    Hazardous journey

    For those escaping war, violence and persecution, the hazardous journey to East African ports and then across the Gulf of Aden in the hands of ruthless people smugglers only adds to their suffering, according to UNHCR officials.

    “They walk sometimes for days or travel in risky conditions prior to reaching one of the main departure points in Somalia and Djibouti. Once a deal with smugglers is made, they are put on over-packed, rickety boats and are likely to be subjected to psychological and physical violence at the hands of smugglers, as well as being left with no water and food for days under a blistering sun,” Nuri told IRIN.

    He added that smugglers often beat passengers to prevent them from moving and putting their small boats at risk of capsizing. Sometimes people were forced to jump overboard. “When a boat capsizes, many drown and the likelihood of finding the missing alive is very low,” he said.

    According to UNHCR, at least 309 people drowned or did not survive the trip in 2009. However, this was less than half the 590 that died in 2008.

    [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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